By  on July 16, 2007

NEW YORK — Gant is launching a new upscale capsule collection targeted at high-end stores for the spring ’08 season. Called Gant Limited Edition, the line will be sold into the Sweden-based brand’s top 15 markets, including the U.S., France, the U.K. and Italy. The collection will be sold here in Gant’s Fifth Avenue flagship store and top-tier wholesale accounts.

Priced about 25 percent higher than the company’s current price points, Gant USA is aiming to reach new customers such as Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue and the Forum Group specialty stores. The goal is to be in 25 to 35 stores for the first season. “We think this will usher in a new era for Gant in terms of our worldwide position in the marketplace,” said Ari Hoffman, president and CEO of Gant USA.

This upscale initiative builds on the company’s flowering relationship with Jeffrey New York, the high-profile Manhattan store where an exclusive line of specially designed Gant woven shirts and rugby shirts have been available for the past year. The brand has been selling very well at Jeffrey, according to owner Jeffrey Kalinsky, and the partnership is expanding into bottoms next season.

Like the exclusive Jeffrey product, the debut Gant Limited Edition collection draws inspiration and design details from Gant’s archives, which stretch back to 1949 when the brand was founded in New Haven, Conn. Designed by Richard Bengtsson, the cofounder of the now-defunct Richard Edwards designer label who has worked with Gant for the past two years, the debut collection includes 30 pieces. Next season, plans call to expand the line to about 50 pieces.

“Everything has been highly edited. This is like an entire retail buy,” explained Hoffman, pointing to the single rolling rack that holds the entire collection. Cleaner and more modern than Gant’s core preppie lineup, the Limited Edition product is logo-free and aims for a designer aesthetic at accessible prices. The spring collection includes blazers in tropical-weight wool/cashmere, nylon windbreakers with racing stripes, tailored trousers, crisp oxford cloth shirts, sea island cotton polos, cotton/cashmere waffle cardigans, tennis shorts and a small assortment of narrow ties, skinny belts and pocket squares.

Fits are slim and contemporary, and design details include narrow collars with tabs, contrasting black undercollars, shorter blazers with working buttonholes and interior seams finished with tape or piping. Hangtags and labels will identify the product as part of the Limited Edition collection. Shirts will retail for $195 to $225, polos for $125 to $135, pants for $245 to $275, shorts for $175 to $195, blazers for $575 to $675, sweaters for $145 to $295 and swimwear for $145.

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